tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 13, 2015 10:46pm-11:01pm EDT
at certain times, i think. and i wondered how that affected the prison and did the prisoners have any kind of shelter to live under. >> well, the food for the prisoners were particularly poor. you know, this area of georgia had been relatively untouched by the war. again before sherman came here. and this was farm land and these farms here certainly could have, you know, been able to provide food for the prisoners. there were problems with, you know, getting good quality food to the prisoners. and i think that's where the question of who's responsible were some of that, henry wirz, i think that plays at his feet. and you know, there were some things again that he could control and he could not control.
this question of getting food into the prisons, you know, whether they were being, you know, fed well, they were getting really low quality and it wasn't anything, you know, they were -- robert kellogg talks about the fact that they're not getting any vegetables and this is part of the reason they're getting scurvy. so that clearly could have made a tremendous difference for them. yes, no doubt. this is an issue for the confederacy. but it's parts of the confederacy, you know, where the war is most' fekts, where armies are moving and the confederacy as a bureaucracy had these issues. the confederacy was an agricultural nation and produced farm goods. but could they get the foods transferred to their own soldiers in the food or whether they were to prisoners, that was often the challenge and that was
a difficult challenge the confederates placed. >> cindy is from knoxville, tennessee. go ahead, cindy. >> caller: hi, ms. gordon. i was wondering, what were the conditions between andersonville and camp douglas in chicago? and thank you. love the program. >> well, now andersonville was the worse. it was the deadliest. it had the highest death rate. i don't know as much about camp douglas. in my own research, you know, the northern prisons, none of them -- the last caller, and i forgot to respond, that he had asked about whether there were shelter. the difference too with andersonville compared with these other locations like camp douglas, camp douglas, johnson's island, the northern prisoners were at either camps of
instruction or former here, it n this open area. there was nothing. there was no structure here. so the men came in here, if they happened to make it in with any kind of coverings, they would use that. and of course, there was praying on by the men themselves with raiders and what have you. they only had whatever they could use, whatever they literally had on their backs. that was a unique difference that andersonville had compared to the northern prisoners like a camp douglas. the death rates of northern that andersonville had compared to the northern prisons, like a comp douglas. and certainly the death rates at the northern prisons was higher. than it should be but it didn't compare with andersonville. >> you're watching american history t. lesley gordon is our guest, a
professor at the university of akron. and author. our previous guest earlier talked about how soldiers in the camp would look out for each other, especially there.some o did you see that amongst the yc 16touh? >> yes.pa vetch. they talk about that. and some of them admit, you could take a parole. you could accept a parole from the confederates to, this wouldr so this meant a few different uo things. it meant you could go outside u the pen. you could get better food. you could work in the hospital. you could do work for henry wurts, whether it meant being ae clerk for hem or some specific job he needed done.t. and some of the soldiers, i a gd believe it's john kozner who tells the story in his post-ware account that a g good friend ofe his took a parole to work into t outside the pen here and it gave hem some extra food so he couldh bring some food back into the a
pen for kuzner, and kuzner't claims that that kept him alivei thaton there's no way he would have lived if his friend hadn'tr gottened those extra rations. e other examples of that, so they were incredibly ua those kinds of friendships and relationships throughout, i do think that that made such a difference, and they really tried to keep tabs on each other while they were here tried to keep tabs on how they were faring, of course when a member of the regiment died, they would take note of it in their diaries. it was important for them. it seemed, of course, not only to keep record of it but to also talk about how they died and the day they died, the moment they died. ahe i'm suread they were thinking ahead so they could tell their o families, you know, when they, e hopefully they made it home and they could bring some closure to their families that they were there when that one comrade oug
passed away. >> glen is in riverdale, georgia, you're on with our erat guest lesleye so gordon. go ahead. >> caller: i was involved in the filming of the movie "andersonville." and we filmed one scene where they were asking the prisoners to join the confederate army fon freedom. and we wondered if that was a real, true story or not.pened, do you have any information about that? >> it's true. it's true. and it happened. it didn't happen, you know, a -t lot, but it happened. it was denied. in the post war, most of the nut survivors would claim, and we even see here on the monuments, death before dishonor, because there is sort of, they, in the post-war memory, there was this compelling desire to, to not want to mention and remember sr
that anybody had, had accepted y that kind of offer and served, essentially the enemy and accepted the offer to serve in h the confederate army, but it happened. and for the 16th connecticut, il found that some members, not as much here at andersonville, but at florence, and somebody recently contacted me to show ma that he had a list of a few names, specific names from the n roster of men that accepted the offer and served in the south t carolinaof unit. and i, i think for them, it was a moment of desperation. i think they really believed that it was either take the to. offer or they were going to die. i think that's what it came down to. and that, that's, that, i think is the context for this. prisons and the confederate army, of course, was looking for men. so they came through these prisons and into andersonville and made those offers. >> michael from camp town, pennsylvania.
go ahead. >> caller: yeah, i have a question for professor gordon. thoughts about whether or not i' is a product of the lincoln's policy of total war over attrition with sherman's, a lot of extermination camp that was later copied by queen victoria, and that war was even worse because they included soldiers, women and children, would you hk comment on that, please? and are you related to general gordon? thank you. >> thank you fori yourgr d ouqk no, i'm not. my grandfather changed our name from gasanski. i can't say enough. i don't know about the comparison you're making. you'rehi suggesting the other w. this question about total war,
thinkwa no doubt and about attrition that that's the t broader point i washi trying to make earlier that i think in the scope of things i think if, we immediate to acknowledge that lincoln was aware of what was going on here. -- there's evidence of that, that he, i, i think he had to feel hn and stanton as well as these other generals that even though this was a horrendous situation, this, i guess, would be his s calculation, that to end the war, to went the war, this woult free the s prisoners and end the misery. and this is what sherman explains in his own memoirs, that when he's getting close to andersonville, and he allows this one raid to come here and it fails, that he doesn't want . of what his bigger, his bigger prize is. by 1864, i think that there wasd thaterat sense, you know, certa lincoln had it that the confederates are still fighting.
virginia, here in georgia and these other places. but there's signs of, you know, of weakening, and it does become a war of attrition. and so, but that doesn't, r pere obviously, that doesn't lose, i don't, i don't think the men here, for, from their perspective, they felt this could not stand, that their suffering had to be recognized and could not be seen as just oh, this is, you know, part of total war and part of the experience of war. so these are these complicated questions, i think, are important to try to take into account that it, it's, it's hard to, it's hard to come out with f an easyro answer to.atlanta, >> let's hear from frank in atlanta, georgia.r, tha >> caller: professor, thank you vet very much for such a lovely tan
program. i am a third great-grandfather . by the name of joseph walsh was taken prisoner. prisone he was with the massachusetts es 5th volunteers. he was taken prisoner by the confederates. in 1862 and moved into a camp. we don't know which camp.a grea and we don't know what camp hadn a great number ofca volunteers from massachusetts that were incarcerated or where they were. but he was given an option.ly. this goes back to stories we've been told and someto writings i our family bible. he was given an option to lessen his punishment, kind of improvet hises conditions, if he were to agree to work with the confederates to ply the trade, t his trade. happened to be harnes maker.he journ and he agreed to do that. and he wrote in, in the journal
that he did it not to support the confederates. but to guarantee that he would i be coming home after the war.g y basically to improve his living conditions. and i'm wondering if you've found any evidence of any prisons in your research where this was a common practice. you >> well, i think you're speaking to this very point and how theso men came to terms with the decisions they made, the decision similar to your ancestor. i know, again, with my work on the 16th, there's one particulal soldier, oliver gates who in his diary, there's one section where he's extremely critical of men that took these paroles, again, to work in the cook house, to w workhi in the hospital. some of them worked as shoemakers. which was a highly valued trade
for the confederacy. they wanted, you know, help making, in shoes. and so, you know, he was extremely anger and bitter about this, that this was a shame, this was so shameful, and, again, death before dishonor, and in the last page of his diary, he confesses that he accepted a parole when he was at, i think it's at florence, ta work in they hospital.d and he says he did it to stay alive, so he could come home to his wife and daughter.tal of and he says that he regrets that he was so judgement menmental i comrades. that nosnchi one should try to e what it's like to be in that position. and i think it speaks to this gut-wrenching torment that thesn prisoners were going through, whether it was this prison or other prisons, they're feeling that they've been forgotten. they don't have a sense of the big picture, whether it's a chae
question of is this total war? is this attrition? is there an exchange going on? all they know is they're tryinge survive, and they no longer can consider these abstract questions of patriotism and duty and even questions about the union or abolition. they just are trying to survive. and some of them do give in and accept paroles and even join the confederacy. and these are,hu i think they'r very real, human moments of crisis that, that can speak to h us, you know. through the generations. and you read about, again, in these diaries and in these memoirs that i don't think thata we've recognized enough in civi- r history that really come to a head in studying prisons. >> we will take one more call from virginia in minneapolis. we're little short of time, so jump in with your question or en